I begin this close read by having the students complete a VKR, a Vocabulary Knowledge Rating. I give the students the list of vocabulary terms that I believe to be the most likely stumbling blocks for them in the poem and each student rates each of the terms on a scale of 1-4 where a 1 means they have no familiarity or understanding of the word, and 4 meaning that they feel they could teach others about the word. A majority of the terms I included on the VKR are likely to be unfamiliar to the students as they are not commonly used in present times. It is this fact that drives my focus and efforts with today's lesson.
Once the students have completed the VKR, I have them work in their table groups to discuss each of the terms. In their discussions, the students are expected to talk and determine the best definition for the words as well as some ways each word can be used.
After the students have worked to complete the VKR and share-out, we move into the text itself. I give the students 10 minutes to silently read The Highwayman to themselves. As they are reading, I walk throughout the room and monitor.
When we have reached the 10 minute mark, or the students have all finished reading, I then ask them to independently fill in the working definitions they have created for each of the words listed, on the trifold Vocab for Highwayman worksheet I provide for them. We then take some time to share out our definitions to check for accuracy. This process requires students to talk about the definition they selected with supporting evidence why they believe it to be an accurate definition. I then provide them with the Answers list of accurate definitions on the board so they can make any necessary modifications to their individual texts. In my reflection, I talk more about the process of decoding and using context clues, etc.
Once we complete the vocabulary portion of the lesson, I move through the next few slides in the The Highwayman Close Read Powerpoint that lead the students through the process of analyzing the poem. The first step, since the students have given the text a complete read earlier in the lesson, is to write down a brief statement about what the poem means. It is important for the students to commit to an initial interpretation of the poem so they can use that as a baseline to build upon. As they will read through the poem a few more times, they will then adjust their interpretation, hopefully becoming more accurate and based in strong textual evidence.
Some of the students struggle with how straightforward this poem is in its narrative style. They want it to mean more and be more symbolic, so they wrestle with themselves as they try to fit it into that mold. As I am moving throughout the room, I pay close attention, looking for that in order to help those students take a step back from it and accept it as a narrative.